RPS Revisits The Witcher 3's First Impressions

CD Projekt RED had nothing to show at this year's Gamescom, but last year it was different, as they had to promote The Witcher 3 in anticipation of its release, which was then planned for early 2015. Many outlets wrote previews based on the hands-off presentation CD Projekt offered at the trade fair, including Rock, Paper, Shotgun, which wasn't kind to the game.

Now that the game has received almost unanimous critical acclaim, the same writer that penned the preview, Adam Smith, went back to his own piece and compared it to his final experience with the game. I'm going to quote his conclusions, because they summarize the tone of the piece rather elegantly:

Misinterpreting a game based on video footage is common. It happens all the time, whether the video has been designed to intentionally mislead and disguise or not. What's rare in the case of The Witcher 3 is how accurate the video was, the excess of the graphics aside, and yet how large the gap between watching and playing turned out to be.

Perhaps it comes down to the fact that wonderful highlight reels and atmospheric sequences can be extracted from The Witcher 3, but none of them can communicate the feeling of existing in that world and enjoying the quiet moments.

More than anything though, previews are an issue of trust. Do I trust that what I'm seeing will translate into an enjoyable experience and that the quality will hold up through the entire duration of the game? Even if I believe the boldest of claims, do I trust that the developers will be able to meet them? The Witcher 3 seemed too good to be true and, in some ways, it still does. In attempting to create something so enormous, so solid and so well-crafted, CD Projekt convinced me that they were selling a fantasy of the wrong kind.